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The Queue (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

The best part of The Queue is how it differs from most dystopian works I've read, namely in that it offers no clear solution at the end. I feel most dystopian novels, while pointing out the grave ways in which society/government can go wrong, nonetheless leave the reader with a feeling of safety at the end, because the unjust regime is toppled and sanity triumphs. We believe that even should such a situation occur in our lifetimes, we would solve it, because the hero of the novel solves it. The Queue does not present the reader with the obvious resolution, leaving us to wonder, if we found ourselves in such a situation, would we recognize it? If we did, would we choose to fight it? And if we did fight it, how would we do it in a world where we don't actually have magic or superpowers, as so many of our dystopian heroes do?



"The Queue ... has drawn comparisons to Western classics like George Orwell's 1984 and The Trial by Franz Kafka. It represents a new wave of dystopian and surrealist fiction from Middle Eastern writers who are grappling with the chaotic aftermath and stinging disappointments of the Arab Spring." -- The New York Times
Winner of the English PEN Translation Award

In a surreal, but familiar, vision of modern day Egypt, a centralized authority known as 'the Gate' has risen to power in the aftermath of the 'Disgraceful Events, ' a failed popular uprising. Citizens are required to obtain permission from the Gate in order to take care of even the most basic of their daily affairs, yet the Gate never opens, and the queue in front of it grows longer.
Citizens from all walks of life mix and wait in the sun: a revolutionary journalist, a sheikh, a poor woman concerned for her daughter's health, and even the brother of a security officer killed in clashes with protestors. Among them is Yehia, a man who was shot during the Events and is waiting for permission from the Gate to remove a bullet that remains lodged in his pelvis. Yehia's health steadily declines, yet at every turn, officials refuse to assist him, actively denying the very existence of the bullet.
Ultimately it is Tarek, the principled doctor tending to Yehia's case, who must decide whether to follow protocol as he has always done, or to disobey the law and risk his career to operate on Yehia and save his life.
Written with dark, subtle humor, The Queue describes the sinister nature of authoritarianism, and illuminates the way that absolute authority manipulates information, mobilizes others in service to it, and fails to uphold the rights of even those faithful to it.

About the Author

BASMA ABDEL AZIZ is an Egyptian writer, psychiatrist, and visual artist. Early on, she earned the nickname 'the rebel' for her indefatigable struggle against injustice, torture, and corruption. A weekly columnist for Egypt's al-Shorouk newspaper, she represents a fresh and necessary female voice in Arabic journalism and fiction. She is the winner of the Sawiris Cultural Award, the General Organisation for Cultural Palaces award, and the Ahmed Bahaa-Eddin Award. She lives in Cairo.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781612195162
ISBN-10: 1612195164
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Publication Date: May 24th, 2016
Pages: 224
Language: English
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